Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.
The audio version of this book is very well done. Jenna Lamia is able to change her voice to sound like either a preteen to an adult and also an elderly person with ease and still maintain a flow to the story. Each girl also has a distinctive voice when she is speaking, which made it easier to tell them apart. She also does emotions well, keeping them from overwhelming the narrative, but still making them important to the characters. I enjoyed listening to her read the story.
The story itself I had some issues with, and they are the same as some of the authors other books. My main issue is that Raymie appears to have lived in a vacuum up until the story starts. We are told very little about her past except that her father sold insurance and left her and her mom at the start of the summer. We also know that she took lifeguard lessons the summer before, but we only know about this because it becomes important to the end of the story. She appears to have been friendless up until she meets Louisiana and Beverly, except for some adults that she seeks advice from. I found it very hard to relate to all three girls for similar reasons.
The plot is interesting enough and moves at a good pace. Though I did find that my mind wandered a little bit from time to time as I was listening. Usually when this happens I will go back a little and listen again, but I didn’t feel it was necessary in this case. I was able to follow the story even when I missed small sections.
I think this book will find its audience though among tweens. It has a nice message and interesting characters which some kids will enjoy.